IN THE INTEREST OF C.M., Minor Child, C.M., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D.
Belcher, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
minor child. AFFIRMED.
M. Wegner (until withdrawal) of Graham, Ervanian &
Cacciatore L.L.P., Des Moines, and Jamie F. Deremiah of
Flanagan Law Group, PLLC, Des Moines, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and John B. McCormally,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
M. White of Jane M. White Law Office, Des Moines, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
parents of the child in interest, born in 2014, have a
history of substance abuse. The child and his parents came to
the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
in July 2016 upon information that the parents were using
methamphetamine while caring for the child and frequently
left the child with known drug users. The father admitted to
daily use of methamphetamine. The mother denied any drug use
but tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamines, and
August, the child was removed from the parents' care and
placed in the temporary legal custody of DHS for placement in
foster care. The child was adjudicated a child in need of
assistance in September. Thereafter, the parents declined to
engage in substance-abuse treatment and continued their use
of illegal drugs. However, the father was admitted to
substance-abuse treatment in November and was successfully
discharged from the treatment program in January 2017.
Shortly after his discharge, however, the father tested
positive for drugs. The father struggled to be consistent
with substance-abuse treatment and sobriety in February and
March. The father did not heed the ensuing recommendation
that he engage in intensive outpatient treatment. In April,
however, the father engaged in regular outpatient treatment,
which he successfully completed in June.
July, the juvenile court granted the father additional time
to work toward reunification, finding the child could be
returned to the father's care within six months if the
father completed the following:
[A]ctively engage a sponsor and attend recovery support
meetings; attend individual counseling regularly and follow
recommendations; consistently attend interactions with child
and engage in [Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency] services;
maintain sobriety and provide drug screens as requested;
actively participate in parenting classes; and maintain
appropriate, suitable housing and demonstrate [an] ability to
meet the child's needs.
early November, the father pled guilty to a charge of
possession of drug paraphernalia. Later that month, the
father was arrested on a charge of possession of
methamphetamine, third or subsequent offense, and another
charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. The father was
granted pretrial release from custody on the condition that
he complete a substance-abuse evaluation within fourteen days
and comply with any referrals. Thereafter, the father
violated the terms of his release and failed to appear for
his arraignment; a warrant issued for his arrest.
the father's legal troubles in November 2017, aside from
his ongoing substance-abuse issues, there were generally no
concerns about his ability to appropriately parent the child,
and he was relatively consistent in attending visitations
with the child. Thereafter, however, the father discontinued
participating in services altogether. In its January 2018
permanency order, the juvenile court noted the current
whereabouts of the father were unknown and modified its
permanency goal from reunification with the father to
termination of parental rights. The father failed to appear
at the subsequent termination hearing. The juvenile court
ultimately terminated the father's parental rights under
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2017).
father appeals,  contending termination is not in the best
interests of the child. Our review is de novo. In re
A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018). "In
considering whether to terminate the rights of a parent . . .
[we] give primary consideration to the child's safety, to
the best placement for furthering the long-term nurturing and
growth of the child, and to the ...